A three year search to put some organization into what happened to the handguns of Director Hoover and Clyde Tolson led to a lot of questions and answers that were scattered across the US. For our readers, we can now present what we found during the search along with the known evidence.
The below information was previously provided here in a .pdf document. However, in September, 2013 minor revisions were made and it was decided to make this information available in page format so the various search engines would index the details, serial numbers, etc. in the event researchers and others were searching on-line.
This page format also allows any updates, revisions, to be easily made. The below should be considered a complete document.
Revised September 29, 2013 – Earlier versions are void - © Larry E. Wack, Ret. FBI - 2011/2013
Known Weapons of J. Edgar Hoover & Clyde Tolson
Compiled from a three year search – 2009 thru 2012
by retired FBI SAs, Larry Wack (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Walt Merritt (email@example.com) With Special Assistance From Dave Ballantyne, Shawn McCarver, S & W Historian Roy Jinks, Rick Nahas, Kevin Williams, & Linda Jones, Collectible Arms, Intn’l
This listing was compiled in an effort to place these historical weapons “under one roof,” for the benefit of those interested in FBI history and weapons/memorabilia belonging to the Director, and Clyde Tolson. The information collected is based upon collector/dealer information, contact with actual owners, auction data, public FBI records, and assistance rendered by retired Special Agents.
The inventory of Hoover’s estate only listed 2 weapons, described in part as a “.22 caliber Colt....” and a “S/W .38 caliber with DOJ seal....” The S/W with the DOJ seal is believed in error and the seal is actually of the FBI and the caliber is .357, not .38. It is believed this weapon is what we’ve dubbed in conversation as the “Sweet gun,” and noted below. The Colt .22 in Hoover's estate inventory is mentioned below which is the latest finding from a private owner.
A review of the inventory in the estate of Clyde Tolson revealed no guns were listed. Collected information reveals that documentation supplied and/or statements made by John P. Mohr and/or Richard Mohr will reveal Tolson gave his firearms, and those he had of the Director’s, to John P. Mohr prior to Tolson’s death, and thus they did not appear in his own estate inventory.
A review of both Hoover and Tolson personnel files, released under FOIA, did not locate any documents which raised the issue of “ownership” of various presentation firearms, i. e. whether they were property of Hoover/Tolson or property of the U. S. Government.
Finally, during this informal inquiry, there was no need to identify the actual owners of the below weapons. In some cases, however, it was volunteered.
All information acquired suggests that the below weapons (except U. S. Government property) were originally in the hands of FBI Asst. Director, John P. Mohr (deceased) secured by him through the estates of Hoover and Tolson with Mohr being the executor of Tolson’s estate. With what is considered minor exceptions, the Director left all of his belongings to Tolson.
Information collected clearly reveals that, with exceptions noted, these firearms were sold by two licensed firearms dealers who were associated with Mohr’s son, Richard (deceased). These dealers are identified as John Appleton (deceased) of “The Gun Shop,” Front Royal, Va. and “Collectible Arms, Intn’l” located in Virginia. (As of early 2011, several Hoover weapons were in the possession of another Mohr relative who obtained them directly from John P. Mohr, above, with documentation.)
Special Note Regarding the Director’s #1 Registered Magnum:
Based upon interviews with collectors who personally knew Richard Mohr, retired Agents who also knew him, and a surviving member of the Mohr family, there is absolutely NO EVIDENCE indicating that the missing Hoover #1 Registered Magnum, below, ever passed through the hands of FBI ADIC, John Mohr.
For historical reasons, we are still attempting to document Hoover’s Registered Magnum. During the summer of 2011, requests under the FOIA statute were made to the FBI in an attempt to determine any information available as to what the Director, or the FBI, did with this weapon. We are aware of the photos of #1 which have surfaced, in addition to the many “rumors” regarding its history and possession.
J. Edgar Hoover:
Smith & Wesson Models:
Serial # 337 – S/W Pre-model 36 Chief Special, .38 caliber, sent by S/W to JEH with his name engraved on it, sold by Richard Mohr
Serial # 45768 – Hoover's #1 Registered Magnum presented by S/W in April/May, 1935, having 8 3/4” barrel. Whereabouts of this weapon is unknown as of 2011, however photos have surfaced which are believed authentic.
Serial # K333333 - .357 Magnum, extensively engraved, presented to Hoover in late 1950's by S/W rep, William Sweet. Photo avail of presentation. Known to be in possession of Mohr family member in 2011, and was sold at auction that same year.
Serial # 24325 - S/W . 38 Chief Special, blue w/brown grips, engraved “J. Edgar Hoover” on the side. In the box and sold via Mohr. Seen in auction catalog.
Notice: The above .38 Chief was shown/sold at the apparent same time as a red and white large badge identified as "Hoover's Raid Badge." Originally thought to possibly be a hoax of some type by collectors, we have found some new documents dating back to 1935 that may now have some bearing on this unusual badge. As of September, 2013, we are examining these documents.
Serial # 0024MF - A Colt .22 caliber single action revolver is shown on page 345 of Hoover's estate inventory. It is described only as “gold plated with mother of pearl grips in wooden box.” Of recent finding, this gun is with a private owner and we've been advised that with regard to this .22 and it's container:
'THE BOX STATES
J. EDGAR HOOVER MAY 10TH 1924-MAY 10TH, 1964
HONORING FORTIETH ANNIVERSARY FROM BUTTE DIVISION OF ASSOCIATES.
THE COLT IS A 100 YEAR MONTANA ANNIVERSARY COMMEMORATIVE SAA REVOLVER THE SERIAL IS 0024MF'
Serial # 411713 – Colt .38 Police Special presented to Hoover by BOI associates in 1930's. Known to belong to Mohr family member in 2011 and sold at auction that same year.
Serial # 156600 – .32 Colt Pocket Positive which was Government property and in possession of Hoover at death. Verified in 2009 as being at Quantico. Memo of gun available.
Serial # 357766 – Colt Single Action 5 1/2” .357 Magnum, blue, ivory grips. Presented by Colt representative Al Foster. Known to have been sold privately through “Collectible Arms,” in Va.
Serial # 157299 - .32 Colt Pocket Positive, factory engraved “J. Edgar Hoover” on back strap. Shipped to Colt rep Albert Foster in New York, 1938 and presented to Hoover. Known to have been sold via “Collectible Arms” w/Richard Mohr docs.
Serial # 16694 – Colt Super. 38. Sold through “Collectible Arms” and obtained via Richard Mohr.
Classified as “Other” - Hoover
Serial #'s 18395 and 18396: Matched pair of Sarasquita Italian 12 gauge shotguns, with “leg of mutton” cases. Initials on one of “JEH” and on the other “WC.” Purchased by wife of Wilford Cain, bird hunter friend of Hoover. Cain's gun eventually ended up with Hoover. Sold in 1999 via “Collectible Arms” with Richard Mohr.
No Known Numbers/Further description – 2 “dueling pistols” known to belong to Mohr family member in 2011, and sold at the Julia auction that same year.
J. Edgar Hoover Presentation Sword - Known to have been sold in 1999 through “Collectible Arms, “ in Virginia obtained via Richard Mohr. Sold by Mertz Antiques in 2008.
Mertz description: “From Colonel Frank Hyatt on the occasion of the FBI director receiving an honorary Doctorate of Law degree from the Pennsylvania Military College on June 6, 1936. Very attractive with full nickel plating on the blade, highlighted by gold gilted decorative floral scrolls. One side of blade etched in gold: ‘John Edgar Hoover’, other side marked ‘U.S.’ in gold gilting. Scabbard is generally VG; considerable amt of orig nickel and gold gilting remaining; some deterioration from bad storage. Marked on both sides of the scabbard: ‘Presented by the Corps of Cadets, Pennsylvania Military College, June 6, 1936’. Accompanying this piece is a leather sheath painted in black and red with the monogram of ‘J.E.H.’ on the top flap; shows some wear and deterioration but generally in VG cond. Very interesting and definitely an authentic collectible piece of Americana.”
Early model Peerless, Serial # 299472, in possession of a known dealer as of August, 2011 and obtained via Richard Mohr.
Hoover’s “Cane” Gun
Origin unknown; verified in possession of the “Gun Shop,” Front Royal, Va. as of 2011.
Clyde Tolson Weapons:
Smith & Wesson Models:
Serial # D 138446 – S&W .38 M&P – According to FBI records, destroyed in 2001.
Serial # 512236 – S/W airweight, Model 38, w/name inscribed on side plate. (private owner)
Serial # 156482 – Colt .32 Pocket Positive. (private owner)
Notice: Retired FBI SAs, Larry Wack and Walt Merritt are not spokesmen for the FBI.